According to a panel discussion on aviation at the European Space Solutions Conference in Prague, EGNOS provides very clear benefits to the aviation sector – benefits that need to be further expanded.
The aviation sector is a key market for EGNOS. Although there remain numerous challenges ahead, it serves as a showcase of sorts for the many benefits that E-GNSS technology can bring to transportation.
“EGNOS was designed for aviation and with nearly a quarter of all airports in our target market being EGNOS-enabled, we’re seeing great results,” said Gian Gherardo Calini, Head of Market Development at the GSA, speaking at the Aviation session of the European Space Solutions Conference in Prague. “But how do we accelerate our penetration in the airports not supporting EGNOS?”
“Our effort should not happen in isolation,” he added. “If we want to get the political attention needed, we have to show the benefits of EGNOS across the value chain.”
LPV Approaches and Interoperability
From the panel discussion, it is clear that EGNOS provides very clear benefits to the aviation sector. At the top of this list of benefits is LPV approaches, which enable near-precision approaches without the need for expensive ground equipment. As this significantly increases the real operational capability of an aircraft, today there are over 108 LPV compatible approaches available in Europe.
Another advantage of EGNOS, which further enhances its LPV role, is its interoperability with other SBAS programmes without the need for different avionic equipment. “Most business aviation manufacturers and high-end helicopters are already putting EGNOS-ready equipment on-board,” said Thierry Racaud, ESSP Chief executive, the EGNOS service provider. “And the commercial manufacturers are taking notice, with some OEMS, such as Airbus, installing EGNOS equipment into their latest models.”
Member State operating authorities are also seeing an increase in demand for EGNOS enabled approaches. In Austria, for example, the push is coming from industry. “General Aviation companies like Diamond Aircraft see the advantages created by EGNOS enabled procedures, including higher accessibility to small airfields in bad weather conditions,” said Daniel Schaad of Austro Control. “For both manufacturers and airports, EGNOS is a win-win: with little need for on-board equipment and no need for a ground infrastructure, both are able to offer users increased accessibility.”
The User Experience
Perhaps the greatest proponents of EGNOS in aviation are the users, and in particular the business and general aviation users. For example, in the business aviation sector, where having access to airports is a key component to its service offering, EGNOS provides an attractive solution.
“Despite the tough economic times, the growth rate of our sector continues to accelerate and we will require the infrastructure – namely, airports – in order to accommodate this growth,” said Fabio Gamba, CEO of the European Business Aviation Association (EBAA). “Our need for flexibility is greatly constrained by existing systems, forcing us to make use of congested airports, which is becoming more and more difficult for the sector.”
How can this capacity crunch be solved? According to Gamba, the answer is EGNOS.
“A wider use of LPVs is good for business aviation, regional airports and the entire value chain,” he said. “Regional airports and smaller airfields appeal to business aviation, but they must improve their attractiveness by offering more precision approaches.”
Noting that many of these airports have limited budgets and cannot afford expensive ground equipment, Gamba pointed out that this is where satellite based solutions become attractive: “LPVs enable Cat 1 like approaches with a decision height of as low as 250 feet, soon 200 feet, possible on all tracks without special ground equipment.”
For many of the same reasons, on top on the increased safety benefit, the general aviation sector shares a similar enthusiasm for EGNOS as its business aviation colleagues. “In taking the EGNOS message forward within the general aviation community, we’re focusing on its relation to three core pillars: pilot training, approaches and equipment,” said Paul Sherry, PPL/IR Europe.
On the training side, he noted that incorporating performance based navigation within annual license renewal procedures was necessary. He also stressed the importance of having LPV approaches visible on general aviation aircraft dashboards, which he is confident will happen as more equipment manufacturers enter the market.
“The end users are demanding advanced procedures and operations and many have on-board capabilities already,” concluded Luis Chocano of INECO, who operates the FilGAAP Project. The project aims at the stimulation of innovative advanced operations enabled by European GNSS systems. “If we don’t stay ahead of the curve by providing new procedures, the momentum that EGNOS has built since its launch in 2011 will begin to wane.”
Gian Gherardo Calini, Head of Market Development, GSA
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